DWR Rescinds Delta Twin Tunnel Permit Application; Begins New Process for a Single Tunnel

For Immediate Release: 5/2/19

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, barbara@restorethedelta.org

STOCKTON, CA – Today, the California Department of Water Resources withdrew its permit application for California WaterFix (the twin tunnels project) from consideration before the State Water Resources Control Board. They also submitted notice to begin the process for planning a single tunnel conveyance project.

These notices fill in some details about an executive order the governor signed on April 29, 2019 directing three state agencies to develop a “comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system and ensure healthy waterways through the 21st century.”

The Water Resilience Portfolio order directs the secretaries of the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to identify and assess a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment. The portfolio will integrate and build on programs, policies and investments already in place to build a climate-resilient water system.

The order directs the state to think bigger and more strategically on water by directing the agencies to inventory and assess current water supplies and the health of waterways, future demands and challenges. The agencies will seek input over the coming weeks and months through listening sessions, information workshops and other public meetings to help inform the water resilience portfolio that will be recommended to the Governor.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, excecutive director of Restore the Delta, said:
“We are extremely pleased that the Department of Water Resources has withdrawn its application for the twin tunnels project. We are relieved that our coalition’s critique of CA WaterFix made before the State Water Resources Control Board was taken seriously. We support a portfolio approach to solving California’s water challenges. We will collaborate and participate in as many processes as possible, and we will support other communities in California working on regional water solutions. Naturally, as Delta people we don’t care for tunnels, but we look forward to engaging in an honest and transparent public process that helps move us towards the co-equal goals of the Delta Reform Act of 2009, including reducing reliance on the Delta.”

As further details about the new tunnel plan become public, here is a sample of some of the questions Restore the Delta will be asking:

  1. Will water quality for the Delta be protected for all beneficial uses (swimmable, drinkable, fishable, farmable)?
  2. Will impacts for residents be reduced and will legacy towns be protected?
  3. Will fisheries be restored, including meeting the doubling goals for salmon?
  4. Will Delta environmental justice communities in Stockton and Antioch be protected from degraded water quality, and construction emissions?
  5. Is there enough water available to justify paying for a tunnel, especially during times of extended drought? And if so, will exported water first be used to improve drinking water quality for the 1 million Californians in need of safe drinking water?

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